Regions > Western Cape

Tjoklets Grotto Cave

Peter Swart 20 November 1994

Introduction

The earliest reference to Tjoklet's Grotto is by Meyer [TBD1]. In his list of caves and places which he named, Tjoklet's Grotto is listed with the date October 1933 alongside. No further details are given. From two poems entitled 'Letter to Tjoklets' and 'Pet Name Certificate', [TBD2] it appears that Tjoklet's was the nick-name that Meyer gave to a young girl.

Description

Tjoklet's Grotto is a small cave, 20m above the entrance to Ronan's Well, and a little to the south-east. The cave consists of a main passage which runs parallel to the cliff face of Ridge Peak for approximately 50m. The cave can be entered via one of the slots which join the main passage to the cliff outside, or via the northern entrance. This entrance is a small collapse which has opened the end chamber of the cave to the surface. The slot entrances appear to be joints which have been widened by solution. The southern end of the cave becomes very narrow, and runs into an area of broken rock.

Between the northern entrance, and the largest slot entrance, is a section of rock about 0.8m thick, and about 1m above the floor. An 'S' shaped tunnel runs through this block of rock, and during the wet season water collects on the sandy floor in this tunnel. Under the entrance collapse, a low passage, less than a metre wide, continues in a northerly direction for a few metres before turning 90 degress to the right, then after 5m, the passage turn 90 degrees to the right again. Two metres further along, after a tight squeeze, the current end of the cave is reached. The cave continues into the mountain as a 1-2cm wide crack. A stream emanates from this crack for most of the year. This stream originates in Drip Water Pot, 105m from this point. (Dye tested)

Once in the main cave, the stream disappears down a narrow crack (<10cm wide), to reemerge TBDm lower down the cliff, in a low, wide resurgence.

Animal Life

The usual cave crickets, which are common in the Kalk Bay caves, are found in Tjoklet's grotto. Spiders are also common in the entrance area. A dead Colophon beetle was found floating in a pool in near the entrance. As the water was seeping, rather than flowing, into the pool, it would appear that the beetle fell into the pool, and was not washed in from upstream. The remains of these beetles have been found in Drip Water Pot, where the stream originates.

Survey and Exploration

In 1985, Bruce Alsen, Anthony Hitckcock, and I surveyed the main passage of the cave. The survey languished in the survey book until sometime in 1990, before being plotted on paper. Interest in the cave was revived in 1992 when Anthony put forward a theory that the water in Tjoklets Grotto emanated in Drip Water Pot. We put this theory to the test.

In October of the same year, Anthony acquired a small quantity of flourescein, and we set out on our first dye trace experiment. We deposited half of the precious contents of our honey jar (approximately 150cc) in the water flowing down The Rack, in Drip Water Pot. Anthony raced across the mountain to Tjoklet's Grotto, while Joan Vlok and I were left the roll up the ladders.

When Joan and I reached Tjoklet's Grotto, we found Anthony sitting in the main passage of the cave, staring at the stream. Nothing had happened. An hour after dyeing the water, we had still not seen any change in the water colour. Ten minutes later, while discussing what we should do next, Anthony thought he detected a slight discolouration of the water. I thought he may be correct, but was not sure. A few minutes later, the water had a distinctly green tinge. We had our link.

Joan and Anthony returned to Drip Water Pot to fetch the gear which we had left there, and on their return, they inadvertently dropped a ladder from the cliff above Tjoklet's Grotto. As I was already at the bottom, I started to search for the missing equipment. The encouraging voices from above assured me that the ladder was still further down the slope, and I continued down until I was level with Ronan's Well. Although I did not find the ladder, I did find a low, wide resurgence, directly below Tjoklet's Grotto, with a stream of fluorescein green water flowing from a very small passage.

In February 1995, Anthony and I, completed the survey of Tjoklet's Grotto, thereby extending the cave by all of 12m, to a total of 72m. By spending many hours widening the end passage, we managed to get into the crack from which the stream emanates. From there on, the crack drops to 1-2cm in width, thus ending any possibility us getting any further in this cave in the foreseeable future.


[TBD1] Meyer, J.G., Diaries

[TBD2] Meyer, J.G., Mountain Records 1924 and Poems p23,24

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